April 18, 2005
Interface, Integration, Concurrency
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on EDACafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Jack Horgan - Contributing Editor

by Jack Horgan - Contributing Editor
Posted anew every four weeks or so, the EDA WEEKLY delivers to its readers information concerning the latest happenings in the EDA industry, covering vendors, products, finances and new developments. Frequently, feature articles on selected public or private EDA companies are presented. Brought to you by EDACafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

Letter to the Editor

I read with interest the very thorough article, "State of Basic Research Funding", by Dr. Jack Horgan. However, it contains one serious error.

Dr. Horgan claims that "Although the idea of patents was part of the US Constitution there was no federal statute that explicitly criminalized the theft of commercial trade secrets until 1996 ... "

This is incorrect. There is no mention of patents (or copyrights) in the U. S. Constitution. In I.8.8, the Constitution says that Congress shall have power "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries"

Notice two things: 1. There is no mention of patents. Reading the above, trade secrets would fall just as well in the category of "discoveries" as would a new, homemade (not "discovered") can opener. 2. Only "useful" arts are placed in the domain of the powers of the Federal Congress; entertaining arts are not mentioned.

To shift the subject a little, Why should the "limited" time of COPYRIGHT exclusivity be extended to 100 years for fiction, songs, or movies, when they are not obviously "useful" in the first place? Shouldn't this kind of excess be supported only on the individual State level?



A patent is a property right granted by the U.S. Government to an inventor “to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the U.S. or importing the invention into the U.S.” for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted. A patent can not be a trade secret by virtue of the requirement to disclose it. Also many firms may unknowingly have and benefit from the same trade secret. Trade secret laws only protect against theft, no exclusive right is granted. Some trade secrets could be converted to patents, e.g. the formula for Coka-Cola. Many trade secrets such as customer lists
and discount strategies clearly could not.

As for state versus federal, the federal government wins out on the grounds of interstate commerce. It would simply be unworkable to have 50 different sets of laws governing patents and copyrights. As to what is useful and how long the exclusive right should remain in effect, opinions will inevitably vary.

PS. If you are reading this and haven't filed your taxes, you are late. Extensions are extensions to file not extensions to pay without interest and penalty.

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-- Jack Horgan, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.


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